This is for a person who shall remain nameless, who wants to see Holmes amazed by a friend's unsuspected talent. Personally, I think that would make a great challenge and ought to be posted as such. (Yes, that was a hint, because I'm too lazy to do it.)

And don't worry; there's a translation at the end.


A Way With Words

"You don't issue invitations, Lestrade. This is your less-than-subtle way of obtaining my help without asking for it."

Whatever Lestrade might think of this bit of deduction, I forgave Holmes for it. We were neither of us happy to be summoned to Scotland Yard early on a Sunday morning.

"You've got it all wrong, Mr. Holmes." Lestrade grinned, rocking back on his heels, thumbs in the pockets of his waistcoat.

Every time he did that, I saw trouble approaching.

"In fact," Lestrade went on, "you're likely to need my help before the hour is out."

As the inspector opened his office door to admit us, Holmes bent and whispered in my ear, "Do let me know if your feet get cold in the next hour, Watson. It might indicate that hell is freezing over."

Therefore I was choked with laughter when I confronted the man waiting in the office. He wore a shabby-genteel black frock coat and trousers, and a perfectly white shirt, and had not removed his battered hat. The clothes had an indefinably foreign cut, as did his dark, handsome features.

"How do you do, sir?" I addressed him.

"Mr. Schwartz doesn't speak English," Lestrade informed us.

"And it all becomes clear!" Holmes chuckled. "You need an interpreter. Didn't I tell you a German dictionary would come in handy someday?"

"Not at all." Lestrade turned to the foreign gentleman and offered him a cigarette. "Gut morgn."

The man almost dropped the cigarette. With an astonished look that mirrored Holmes', he said, "Man kann Yiddish reden?"

"Gewis," Lestrade replied. "Derzeil mir wos pasiert ist."

"Nu, ich gang-" Mr. Schartz broke off, glancing at the flabbergasted Holmes. "Wer ist der nudnik?"

"Mein behelfer, Sherlock Holmes," Lestrade said.

"Sherlock Holmes?" Mr. Schwartz gazed at my friend, seeming dissatisfied. "Ich gleibt er war hoicher."

Lestrade shrugged. "Ich gleibt er war kluger."

A lengthy conversation ensued, not a word of which I understood.

After Mr. Schwartz had departed, apparently satisfied with the outcome of his dealings with the Metropolitan Police, a weighty silence fell in Lestrade's office. The inspector seemed content to put his feet up on the desk, light a cigar, and marinate in smugness. Holmes wore the bewildered expression of a witness to some event beyond comprehension.

No longer able to contain myself, I burst into laughter, which went on for some time. Once I was capable of speech, I wiped tears from my eyes and asked, "Lestrade, how long have you been waiting to do that?"

Holmes answered for him. "Seven long years, one suspects, Watson, ever since I chided him for being unable to read a single foreign word written on a wall. The question is, where on earth did the good inspector learn to speak Yiddish?"

"The East End," Lestrade said, as if it were the most obvious answer imaginable. "You may not know this, Mr. Holmes, but a hundred thousand immigrants from Europe are living in London. The times are changing, and we must change with them."

"This from the man whose children had to show him how to use a telephone," Holmes muttered.

Mercifully, a rap on the door ended the contest. Gregson poked his head in, saying, "Bonjour, mes amis. Comment-allez vous?"

To this day, I have never been sure if Holmes was overcome and swooned, or if he deliberately escaped into unconsciousness by slamming his head on Lestrade's desk.


The conversation went like this:

Lestrade: Good morning.

Schwartz: You speak Yiddish?

Lestrade: Certainly. Tell me what happened.

Schwartz: Well, I went- Who's the annoying guy?

Lestrade: My assistant, Sherlock Holmes.

Schwartz: Sherlock Holmes? I thought he was taller.

Lestrade: I thought he was smarter.